First Presbyterian Church of Taos

We best serve Christ by loving all!


The History of Labyrinths

The labyrinth is ancient. Thousands of years ago, people carved the
pattern of the labyrinth in stone, marked it out with rocks in the
desert, or cut into the turf in village greens. The spiral motif was
imprinted on coins and woven into fabric and baskets. There is
evidence for the use of labyrinths from Iceland to India, Mexico to
the Mediterranean, and Scandinavia to Spain.
During the Middle Ages, the Christian church adopted the basic form
of the labyrinth and made it less linear. Instead of simply spiraling
inward, the path was newly designed to twist and turn, creating a
complex pattern which resembled a cross. Although evidence is
scarce, it has been suggested that the path of the labyrinth was
meant to represent the road to and from Jerusalem. In an age when
pilgrimage to holy places was cherished as a sacred act, the inward
and outward movement of the labyrinth may have offered to those
unable to leave home a way of imitating that pilgrimage. Walking
the labyrinth may also have symbolized the Christian life, following
the path set out by Christ.
The History of First Presbyterian’s Labyrinth
The prayer labyrinth here at First Presbyterian Church is one of only
two in Sarasota and is based on the 11-circuit labyrinth of Chartres
Cathedral in France. The labyrinth was constructed using bricks
from the original street built in 1928 that ran in front of the church.
The street was named Bowman Court after one of the pastors at
FPC. For a century, the saints of First Presbyterian Church have
walked in and out of the worship space of the church. It seemed
only right to honor those generations of Christians to
create another sacred path using those same bricks.
In 2006, after a backhoe dug up the bricks of Bowman Court,
several dedicated members hand-selected the ones that were used
for the project. It has been estimated that 37.5 tons of bricks were
hand placed on pallets to be used by the Portuguese team who then
laid the bricks into the labyrinth. Also included was the construction
of a 2-foot high wall around the periphery to separate the sacred
space from the parking lot and Fellowship Hall. It was not realized
until after the project was completed that this wall created a
phenomenon of sound amplification when standing in the center of
the labyrinth.
Walking the Labyrinth
The labyrinth is a path of prayer; a time to open yourself to the
presence God. It is a person walking meditation, a body prayer.
A simple way to begin your walk is to stand at the entrance,
pause, and quiet your mind. You may choose to take a
deep breath or say a silent prayer.
When you are ready, enter and follow the path.
The labyrinth has only one path that winds throughout – there
are no dead ends.
Relax and walk at a pace that is comfortable for you. If you
meet others while walking, you may step off the path and
go around them or let them pass you.
Feel free to pause at any time and especially as you reach the
turns in the path.
The walk toward the center is a time of letting go. With each
step, release the details of your busy life, shedding
thoughts and emotions, quieting and emptying your mind.
When you reach the center, sit or stand, and stay as long as
you like.  A center is a place of reflection, meditation, and
prayer. Be open to receiving what there is to receive.
As you leave the center, follow the same path out. While
walking, experience whatever healing, peace or sense of
well-being may come.
Walking the labyrinth is a different experience for each person,
each time. It is our hope that this winding path has become a
mirror of where you are in your life. We invite you to return as
often as you like.

First Presbyterian Church of Taos​
We best served Christ by loving all!